The Hip Hop Film Festival kicked off its fifth season August 6-9 with four days of film screenings, Master Cyphers, the Boss Pitch competition, and more. Thousands of filmmakers, movie lovers, and culture enthusiasts from all over the world gathered together for a series of live events and film screenings. The Hip Hop Film Festival continues through the month as filmmakers host special private watch parties.
Movie lovers got to cozy up in the festival’s private 24/7 FilmsTV cinema to view stories that matter. This year, film screenings featured stories across nine categories including sci-fi stories, Black stories, lit stories, dramatic stories, scary stories, women-led stories, funny stories, and global stories. The Opening Night Film Prospect Park premiered with a special watch party that included a screening and Q&A moderated by actor Khalil Khan (Juice, Girlfriends) and Shaquala Golden. Prospect Park is a modern day quirky comedy following the misadventures of a group of millennials as they navigate life, love, and careers in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park area. Prospect Park director Courtni Saizon won a development deal at last year’s Boss Pitch competition to produce the film.
Fifty filmmakers had a chance to pitch the festival’s panel of industry executives and decision-makers during this year’s Boss Pitch competition. The panel included television producer and entrepreneur Mona Scott-Young; Big Fish’s senior director of development, Christine Westbury; Francesa Francios-Grimaldi, CEO of Crystal Ship Artists, and other high-level female industry executives. Twelve filmmakers received a golden ticke” to receive a sponsorship, partnership, or mentorship to help them develop their film projects and careers.
Along with showcasing their films, filmmakers received gems on how to navigate the business of filmmaking during the festival’s Master Cyphers. Filmmakers learned how to gain distribution for their films during Distribution Down Low: I Want to Sell My Movie/Series, sponsored by Seed&Spark.
Emmy nominated executive producer, writer, and comedian Robin Theade (Black Lady Sketch Show) joined Kuye Youngblood (head of development & production, BRIC TV), Lilly Burns (writer, director, producer, Jax Media), and Liz Cohen (VP of development at Jax Media) to discuss how filmmakers can become a showrunner during We Run This: The Business of Show Running.
Media personality and host Shefik moderated a no-holds barrel discussion on the politics of being LGBTQ+ in film and the culture of hip hop with Academy Award-winning producer Bruce Cohen, Christopher Donaldson (producer/VP of content Here Media), Kareem Ferguson (writer, director, producer Gay Baby), and Peppermint (comedien and media personality) during LGBTQ+: The Culture & Film.
This year’s Power of Legacy Actor’s Workshop and Icon Cypher were big hits as filmmakers got to learn from some of Hollywood’s brightest stars, executives, and legends. Hollywood Casting Agent, Wendy McKenzie and Power actress, Naturi Naughton showed actors how to prepare to get their next big role during the Power of Legacy Actor's Workshop. Actor, Theo Rossi and Icon Living Award Recipient, Omari Hardwick, had a transparent and honest discussion on how to be a disrupter in the film industry during the Icon Cypher. Filmmakers received personal guidance from both Rossi and Hardwick on how to progress in their careers. “The biggest surprise for me is how some people try to relegate you to boxes. Being an icon is about being a disruptor,” said Hardwick.
The Hip Hop Film Festival continues through the month as filmmakers host special private watch parties. Winners will be announced during the Closing Awards ceremony later this fall. Ice Cube will also receive the Greatest Of All Time Award for his impact and contributions to film and culture at the ceremony.
Movie lovers can purchase tickets to special watch parties at http://www.hiphopfilmfestival.org/schedule.